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Help with Homework

April 18, 2010

It is mid April and there there are only 6 weeks left until summer break. One of the decisions that my husband and I made for kindergarten this year was to separate our twins into different classrooms due to their personalities. I honestly think that this was probably one of the best decisions that we could have made for this year and I have absolutely no regrets. One of the challenges of separate classrooms is the issue of homework–different teacher expectations, different assignments, different due dates, etc. Of course it would be the same story for any parent with children in two different grades–but with a bit of a twist.

For the most part our twins are learning the same core curriculum which primarily involves letter formation, sight word memorization, basic addition and subtraction, etc. But having different teachers creates some unique homework scenarios. The two of them are on different levels of understanding on most of their work. While my son picks up on new information very quickly–he has no patience and flies through his assignments so they tend to be sloppy. He also hates to be wrong, so rather than spelling based on sound (which is what his teachers want him to do) he insists on knowing the proper spelling and will continue to ask us for validation while doing his work. My daughter, on the other hand is a perfectionist and can spend an inordinate amount of time just coloring a few pictures. She is much more independant in her efforts and will occassionally do her assignments in extended care before I pick her up.

But the common factor for both of them is that they absolutely fight doing homework anytime we try to get them to do it. Now don’t get me wrong–our kids don’t get a ton of homework–I mean they are just kindergarteners! They have a weekly assignment which is based on an assigned letter of the alphabet that is due each Monday (with a few exceptions for review weeks). Then during the week they are to complete a basic worksheet over the same letter which is due on Friday. In addition to that, they have sight words to study plus 5 spelling words each week.

So we have just 6 more weeks to go and then on to First Grade.  I’m not sure how much homework first graders get but I figure it’s probably more than in kindergarten, so I am trying my best to start the routine now.  And the question still in my mind is whether or not to keep them separate or put them together.  I’m not sure what I will do yet–I guess we’ll figure it out soon enough.

Both of them are good at school (I suppose most moms say that though). They do good work for their teachers but when it comes to doing their work from home it’s another story. It feels like I am pulling teeth to get them to sit down and do their assignments or study their words. And it’s really challenging now since the weather is nice again. As soon as we get home they just want to go out and play–and frankly I don’t blame them–I want to play outside too. So how do you motivate young kids to do their work when they’ve been sitting in class all day and now they just want to have some fun.

I’m not overly concerned right now, but I really wonder what it will be like in future years when the assignments become harder and more frequent. I have read quite a bit about this topic and it seems that one of the most important things is to have a routine. Whether it is before dinner, after dinner or early in the morning doesn’t really matter–but to have a set pattern that kids can know what expect.

As a working mom, I know how difficult it can be to keep kids engaged in their homework when there are so many things to tend to when you get home. Most evenings my husband and I get home around 6pm just to enter into the race of preparing dinner, homework, sitting down to eat, and then getting everyone bathed and to bed by 8pm. Then throw in a gymnastics lesson or baseball game (or both) and…..well I’m just tired writing about it.

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